The Immigrant

As his ship now departs to cross over the sea,
He looks back as he fondly remembers
The dear family he leaves, the quaint house by the lea,
And two eyes that once sparkled like embers.

For the passion he saw in those eyes, like his own,
Burned so bright as fall’s bonfires grew dim,
But the winter wind called out her name with a moan,
And now nothing’s the same here for him.

In the warm days of summer, their love blossomed new
With the heather that bloomed on the hill;
Not a cloud cast a shade, not a chilling wind blew
As they strolled over ridge and by rill.

As their love ripened with the year’s harvest, they yearned
To be wed as the green leaves turned gold,
But her eyes were soon closed, and those embers that burned,
Now extinguished, lay ashen and cold.

So to bury the past, he embarks on this day
For a land that he never has known;
As the sun rises slowly, its beams fill the bay,
Shining brightly as once her eyes shown.

In his own eyes, tears gleam, for his old cherished dreams
Must now fade in the light of the sun;
Yet the griefs that he feels are like birth pangs, it seems,
Since today, a new life has begun.

For the night has now fled; a new day lies ahead
Full of hope like the sun’s golden ray;
But he’ll never forget her whom he longed to wed
And their shared love, ere she went away.

Though years hence, he may rise under far distant skies,
In his heart, loving thoughts there will be
When he thinks of those eyes and the hill where she lies
On that island across the wide sea.



My Father’s Gift

I woke this morning, and I found
A lovely package at my door,
Left there by one who made no sound
While on my porch the night before.

Its sky-blue wrapping seemed to glow
With moving clouds; it had a dove
Of peace atop its sunbeam bow–
The tag read, “To my son, with love.”

I opened it and found inside
A fresh new day, a gift from One
Who looks on me with love and pride,
As fathers look upon a son.

I saw the day was good to eat,
Just like a cooling, fresh-baked cake
Whose scent draws strangers off the street,
Its spicy goodness to partake.

Or like a multi-colored coat
Prepared for me with love and care
Like that which Jacob, prone to dote
On Joseph, made for him to wear.

To wear this coat, I saw that I
Must doff the gloomy robe I wore
And hang it in the closet by
Old, threadbare sighs, and close the door.

“The Lord has given me this day,”
I said, “with gladness to embrace;
So let my sorrows fade away
Before the splendor of His grace!’

“Let me rejoice with each new day
My Father leaves outside the door;
For though the skies above be gray,
His love shines on me evermore.”



Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.

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18 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Both poems exude love, beauty and compassion for the human condition. Their musicality and seamless flow had me swept up in their wonder from the outset. I adore “My Father’s Gift”, and will most certainly be sharing it with others. Its wonderful message sent me to my porch, and there it was in “sky-blue wrapping” with “a dove / Of peace atop its sunbeam bow” – my delicious day! Thank you very much for flooding my heart with gratitude and gracing my face with a smile – such is the power of your poetry, Mr. Rizley. You have made my gift of a day special.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Susan. It is so gratifying to know that you were moved by the poems in the way you describe. You mentioned the word musicality, and you might find it interesting to know that I had a piece of music in mind when I wrote the first poem– a Celtic instrumental piece by Joanie Madden called “the Immigrant” on a CD called “Song of the Irish Whistle.” You can listen to it on You Tube It is a nostalgic and plaintive Irish air, and was one source of inspiration for the first poem. You can listen to it on You Tube.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Martin, I have just listened to the Celtic instrumental piece that inspired “The Immigrant”. Your beautiful poem captures the strains of this heart-tugging, haunting music perfectly. The origins of poems and the creative writing process fascinates me. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Jeff Eardley

    Martin, just brushing back a tear after listening to “The Immigrant” whilst reading your wonderful poem of loss and longing, while “My Fathers’s Gift” sent my mind back to the kindness of my own father. Two universal themes here and I love both of them to bits.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thanks, Jeff, for your comments. I am so glad that you found the poems moving and could identify with the sentiment they expressed.

      • Jeff Eardley

        Martin, as a folk musician, I love your words to “The Immigrant” In normal times, I am the guitarist at a lively Irish session. This would make a super ballad and I hope you don’t mind if we try to put a tune to it some day. And thanks again for introducing me to the “Song of the Irish Whistle” which I am playing as I write this. Hope to read more of your excellent work soon.

    • Martin Rizley

      Hi Jeff, That would be wonderful if you decide to set the poem to music! I have thought before about how nice it would be if some composer offered to set some of my poems to music. The only thing is, if you do set it to music, I would love to hear it; so perhaps you could record a performance on your cell phone and put it on YouTube, then contact me through my Facebook page or through the SCP website to let me know it is available.

  3. C.B. Anderson

    Martin, I think that in the first poem, in stanza 5, line four, you meant to write “shone” rather than “shown.” Otherwise, your anapests mostly pass muster, though you might have turned a couple of tight corners, e.g. the last line of the penultimate stanza.

    The ideation of the second poem could be sharper. The second half of stanza 6 is a good example. Stanza 4 is entirely flabby, especially the last line.

    • C. B. Anderson

      You are right about the misspelling of “shone.” I didn´t catch that.
      I am not sure I understood what you meant about “sharper ideation” in the second poem. Did you mean the ideas in the poem are unclear or the metaphors ambiguous? Please feel free to elaborate, if you wish. I grant that the backstory of the poem is ambiguous, but the basic idea of the poem is fairly clear, I think– namely, that the speaker awakens one day and realizes after a period of prolonged sorrow that God has given him the present day to enjoy, so old griefs must be put away and present blessings embraced as a gift of God.

      • C.B. Anderson

        I don’t know how you managed to assume my identity while you posted my answer to myself. But I’ll let that go. Your first question is what I meant when I wrote “sharper ideation.” For me, the sequence of events & ideas did not proceed from any logical order, but rather from a tendentious impulse toward the desired outcome. I’m a bit soft on the theology, and your prosody is rather strong, so I’m inclined to like this poem despite any reservations I might have. Upon re-reading, I have found the final stanza downright treacly.

  4. Martin Rizley

    C:B. Anderson, I´ll avoid assuming your identity this time! I grant you that the emotion in the poem and in the last stanza in particular is very much “heart on sleeve.” No question about that. I have to say that I wrote this poem a number of years ago, towards the end of a very difficult period in my life, when I was beginning to regain a positive outlook on the future, so though it may seem quite sentimental, maudlin, or “treacly” (as you say), I can assure you that the feelings expressed were 100% sincere at the time I wrote this and not at all contrived or fabricated for the sake of effect.

    • C.B. Anderson

      I believe you, Martin. Maybe I’m just a hard-ass, but for me such things evince but do not evoke feelings


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